Teen Champions Plastic Pollution Awareness Day

February 15, 2018 by  
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Since she was a young girl, Hannah Testa has been … The post Teen Champions Plastic Pollution Awareness Day appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Teen Champions Plastic Pollution Awareness Day

One in four of world’s largest cities under water stress

February 15, 2018 by  
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Cape Town, South Africa is rapidly approaching what has been called “Day Zero,” the moment when the diverse metropolitan area of nearly 4 million runs out of clean drinking water . While Cape Town has taken drastic measures to conserve water , it is simply not enough to avoid the imminent crisis. And now, as government and residents prepare for the worst, it’s important to understand which other major cities around the world are also at risk. Lack of water is truly a global problem; one in four of the world’s largest cities are currently under “water stress,” with that number expected to rise due to climate change, human activity, and population growth. Water shortages have the potential to aggravate already unstable political and economic conditions, which is of particular concern in cities such as Cairo . Currently confronting violent extremism and managing ongoing political tension, Egypt is also rated by the World Health Organization as ranking high among middle-income countries on the number of deaths related to water pollution. This is tied to increasing pollution in the Nile River. The United Nations estimates that Egypt will suffer critical water shortages by 2025, exacerbating the potential for conflict. Similarly, São Paulo and Moscow are plagued by pollution due to poor public policy decisions. Fortunately, this means that the problem may be fixable, however entrenched it might be. Related: Venice’s canals go dry following weeks without rain Coastal cities like Jakarta and Miami are facing unique water problems as both attempt to pull freshwater from aquifers. Due to lack of public access to piped water, residents of Jakarta have dug illegal wells, draining the underlying aquifer and actually causing the land to sink. As a result, about 40 percent of Jakarta now lies below sea level. While Miami may not be sinking, its freshwater reserves are suffering from seawater contamination as a result of rapid sea level rise and wetland habitat destruction. Even cities like London are facing a water-scarce future, with severe shortages expected by 2040. Governments can make the necessary policy changes to solve this problem, but they must act quickly. The water crisis is already upon us in many cities. Via BBC News Images via Depositphotos (1) (2)

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One in four of world’s largest cities under water stress

Metal-clad Treehouse for "no-commute lifestyles" mimics Portlands forests

February 15, 2018 by  
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With projects like LEVER Architecture’s recently completed Treehouse, it’s little wonder Portland, Ore. scores high marks for livability and sustainability. Located on the Marquam Hill campus of the Oregon Health & Science University (OSHU), Treehouse caters to those interested in a “live/work/no-commute lifestyle”. Designed for mixed use , the seven-story houses 69 apartment units as well as retail on the ground floor. Taking cues from the forest, Treehouse is wrapped in a textured metal skin that mimics the color and form of tree trunks. The facade’s consistent texture and pattern give the building a dynamic depth and appearance that changes throughout the day. “The design bridges the urban and topographical qualities of the campus by placing the building as an “in the round” object in the forest,” wrote the architects. “Instead of cutting into the hill, the building form is carved to follow the landscape. A continuous carved building skin is achieved by eliminating the expression of floor levels by incorporating all expansion joints into the custom window surrounds.” Related: Nation’s tallest timber building to rise in Portland The apartment units are clustered around a compact central core housing the stairs and elevator. Glazing can be found on all sides of the irregular octagonal building and maximize daylight into the studio and one-bedroom units. A rain garden landscape and deck on the lower level handles all stormwater runoff. + LEVER Architecture Via ArchDaily Images via LEVER Architecture

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Metal-clad Treehouse for "no-commute lifestyles" mimics Portlands forests

Cities in Germany to offer free public transit in fight against pollution

February 14, 2018 by  
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In what has been described a radical move for Germany , several cities across the country will trial free public transportation services in an effort to reduce car usage and related pollution. “Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany,” wrote German environment minister Barbara Hendricks and two colleagues in a letter to EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella.  Other pollution-fighting proposals in Germany include stricter regulations on emissions from buses and taxis, the establishment of low-emission zones, and support for car-sharing systems. The move is noteworthy at a time when German politics is particularly unstable; after losing the majority in a recent election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party is still working to achieve a coalition government deal with the Social Democratic Party. Despite lacking a ruling majority, the German government has seemed to have found consensus on tackling pollution with ideas such as free public transit. The shift in transit policy also follows Volkswagen’s emission cheating scandal , which has engendered opposition towards the auto industry . Related: Dunkirk, France offers free public transit to all Germany is planning to offer free public transit as part of an effort to meet an European Union mandate that limits nitrogen dioxide and fine particles pollution . Along with eight other EU members, the country failed to meet the January 30 deadline to reduce pollution, and so must act quickly to meet its obligations. While free public transit may be appealing to citizens, there are obstacles to overcome. “I don’t know any manufacturer who would be able to deliver the number of electric buses we would need,” Bonn mayor Ashok Sridharan told DPA . “We expect a clear statement about how [free transport] will be financed,” said Helmut Dedy, chief of the Association of German Cities. Some suggested a rush-hour ride in Berlin would help ministers understand the magnitude of the challenge in expanding public transit. “The conclusion would be clear,” wrote the Die Welt newspaper editorial staff: “more carriages, more personnel, and maybe even more tracks and lines would be needed. Where would the billions for that come from?” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Cities in Germany to offer free public transit in fight against pollution

This incredible geodesic dome home could be yours for $475k

February 14, 2018 by  
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This gorgeous wooden Dome Home – which is currently on the market for $475k – is a beautiful example of geodesic design done right. Located in the heart of Sonoma County, the home has a cozy atmosphere complete with handcrafted woodwork, triangular windows, and a wood-burning stove. The home, which is located in California’s gorgeous Russian River Valley, is a one-bed, one-bath retreat surrounded by a large yard. Built in 1980, the home has recently undergone renovations and the results are stunning. Clad in wooden panels, the geodesic shape creates an airy, spacious interior. Refinished woodwork is found throughout the structure, including the beautiful hexagonal wood paneling pattern that runs throughout the interior space. Multiple triangular windows flood the home with natural light . Related: Envirohaven’s super green geodesic homes can be built in just a few days Besides having a unique shape, the interior is filled with whimsical features such as a handcrafted wooden spiral staircase, custom tile work and a wood-burning stove that gives the interior a cozy cabin-like feel . The living space takes up the entire first floor, while the bedroom and adjacent office space are located upstairs, overlooking the living room via a small balcony. Not only is the Dome Home located on a large plot of land, but it also comes with two additional structures onsite. One is used as a laundry room and there is an additional structure that could be used as an artist studio or guest house. Via Dwell Images via Russian River Land and Home Realty

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This incredible geodesic dome home could be yours for $475k

Trump budget proposes huge cut to EPA and climate research

February 14, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration released its fiscal 2019 budget proposal on February 12, revealing a desire to deeply cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If adopted, the budget would cut the EPA ‘s budget by 23 percent, or more than $2.5 billion, and eliminate nearly all funding for climate change research. The Administration describes a return to the true mission of the EPA by reducing “unnecessary reporting burdens on the regulated community” and ending programs that “create unnecessary redundancies or those that have served their purpose and accomplished their mission.” Environmental groups describe the budget as an effort to dismantle federal environmental protections. “The Trump administration budget released today is a blueprint for a less healthy, more polluted America,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, in a statement . “A budget shows your values — and this budget shows the administration doesn’t value clean air , clean water, or protecting Americans from toxic pollution.” Related: Why Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan is a disaster for the environment Specific targets include programs such as water improvement funding for U.S.-Mexico border communities, state funding for radon-detecting initiatives, and efforts to restore the health of large bodies of water, such as Puget Sound , the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes. While clearly laying out the administration’s priorities, the budget is not likely to become law. Congress recently passed a two-year bipartisan budget agreement, so Trump’s budget will have to wait its turn. At that point, Congress may have changed parties. Even if the Republicans maintain control in two years, it remains to be seen whether Congress would agree to inflict such draconian cuts onto important federal agencies and programs. Still, the budget is a telling symbol of what this Administration wishes the United States to become. Via The Washington Post Images via The White House/Flickr and U.S. Geological Society/Flickr

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Trump budget proposes huge cut to EPA and climate research

EPA ends "always-in" clean air policy opposed by fossil fuel companies

January 26, 2018 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing a key  Clean Air Act provision. They’re reversing the “once-in always-in” policy for major sources of pollution , which requires sources like  power plants , to always be classified as a major source. Under the new change, if a source “limits its potential to emit below major source thresholds,” per the EPA , it can be reclassified as an area source. What’s the impact of all this? According to a statement from Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) clean air director John Walke, “This is among the most dangerous actions that the Trump EPA has taken yet against public health .” The EPA , in their own words, is “reducing regulatory burdens.” They’re withdrawing a policy “for the classification of major sources of hazardous air pollutants under section 112 of the Clean Air Act.” According to Reuters, the “once-in always-in” policy was established in 1995. The agency said it had acted as a disincentive for sources to put pollution abatement and prevention attempts in place, “or to pursue technological innovations that would reduce hazardous air pollution emissions .” Reuters reported the petroleum industry, utilities, and others sought the withdrawal. Related: EPA cancels plan to clean up polluting Texas coal plants A major source emits or could emit 10 tons a year of any risky air pollutant, according to the EPA, or 25 tons or more of a combination of air pollutants a year. Area sources are those with emissions under that threshold, and according to Reuters, are subject to pollution control standards that aren’t as strict as those for major sources. The NRDC doesn’t agree with the move. Walke said it would “allow the greatest increase in hazardous air pollutants in our nation’s history.” “This move drastically weakens protective limits on air pollutants like arsenic, lead, mercury, and other toxins that cause cancer, brain damage, infertility, developmental problems, and even death,” he said in a statement. “And those harmed most would be nearby communities already suffering a legacy of pollution.” + Environmental Protection Agency Via Reuters and the Natural Resources Defense Council Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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EPA ends "always-in" clean air policy opposed by fossil fuel companies

"World’s first smog vacuum cleaner" heads to Poland

January 25, 2018 by  
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After touring in China, Studio Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Project will offer a vision of clean air in a new location: Poland . Daan Roosegaarde’s studio will install a Smog Free Tower – described by the studio as “the world’s first smog vacuum cleaner” – in Kraków’s Park Jordana. Studio Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Tower will start sucking pollution out of the air in Park Jordana from February 16 to April 15. Visitors to the project will also have an opportunity to see the Smog Free Ring at a Smog Free Project pop up at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK). The tower, which is almost 23-feet-tall, draws on patented positive ionization technology to scrub the air of pollutants. Roosegaarde told Inhabitat last year the tower offers “a local solution on a park level: to create these bubbles of clean air in the city.” He said areas around the tower are “55 to 70 percent cleaner than the rest of the city” – and research from the Eindhoven University of Technology confirmed the tower’s efficacy. Related: INTERVIEW: Designer Daan Roosegaarde on smog temples, space trash, and what’s next Krakow has wrestled with smog in the past; a 2016 article in the Krakow Post reported the city’s air quality has often been worse than other cities known for their air pollution like Los Angeles and Beijing . A 2017 Bloomberg article delved into fashion statements made by locals with smog masks to stave off harmful small particles – and said on high smog-alert days, the city’s particulate-matter pollution can hit levels six times those thought to be safe, according the World Health Organization. ING Bank ?l?ski S.A. is the project’s main partner in Poland; MOCAK, the Municipality of Kraków, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ in Poland are also supporters. + Studio Roosegaarde + Smog Free Project in Poland Images via Studio Roosegaarde/World Economic Forum and Studio Roosegaarde ( 1 , 2 )

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"World’s first smog vacuum cleaner" heads to Poland

redhouse studio is making a mobile machine that recycles old buildings

January 25, 2018 by  
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Did you know that buildings are responsible for 39 percent of the United States’ carbon emissions? Architect Chris Maurer of redhouse studio told Inhabitat he loves being an architect, but finds it difficult to reconcile that figure. To help lighten the construction industry’s footprint, Maurer is teaming up with NASA , MIT , and the University of Akron to create the Biocycler: a mobile machine that literally recycles old buildings. The machine will use living organisms, not glue, to bind construction waste into durable bricks that can be used to build brand new structures. Read on for a closer look at this groundbreaking project. Maurer was inspired to create the Biocycler in part through his experience at demolition sites throughout Cleveland. “We do many projects that are adaptive reuse to preserve old buildings, but even then the demolition waste can be quite extensive,” he said. During a design/re-build project at Kent State University, the team was dismayed at how much waste their preservation project produced. “We dropped the material ourselves at the landfill ,” Maurer said. “It was hard to do (it was hard to see it all go to waste) but there was no economically feasible way to use the materials.” Related: New self-healing concrete uses fungus to fix cracks The Biocycler could change all that. redhouse plans to experiment with fungal mycelium and calcite-producing microbes as building and binding materials in the Biocycler. Maurer explains that “A symbiosis of the microbes and fungi can be made to feed each other and [they] are working towards using the microbes as bio-signals to tell us things about the structure and air-quality within it.” The incorporation of fruiting fungus (i.e. mushrooms) could serve the additional purpose of food production. “Where food security is an issue, we are looking to make mushroom production the main activity and the bio-materials the secondary output,” he said. redhouse studio is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the construction of a proof of concept. “Truth be told, we’re already recycling buildings, or at least materials,” said Maurer. “The kickstarter will lead to a mobile unit to put these processes on display and get closer to building entire structures out of the waste.” redhouse has already constructed and tested bricks and panels from recycled materials, as well as some model prototypes, and hopes to complete a full-size structure in 2018. Related: Church built for $35k stays naturally cool in Malawi Prior to starting the Cleveland-based studio in 2014, Maurer served as director for studioMDA in Malawi and MASS Design Group in Rwanda, where he came to more fully understand the value and potential of sustainable design. “[In Africa], we needed to innovate with limited resources,” said Maurer. Related: This company wants to turn food waste into building materials — here’s how redhouse has worked for commercial clients, such as the Hulett Hotel in Cleveland , while also developing humanitarian design projects, such as the Bioshelter , a prefabricated home that mitigates waste while providing food security and economic opportunity through crops grown on-site. As with much of the studio’s work, the Bioshelter was conceived to be as self-sustaining as possible. “We are constantly looking for new resource loops, finding benefits to waste streams,” he said. Change can sometimes be uncomfortable for the mainstream consumer, particularly if it includes the words “fungus” and “microbe.” Nonetheless, Maurer believes the time has come for fresh, green solutions to global problems. “Think about the pro-biotic craze right now,” he said. “People are waking up to the fact that antibiotic medicines and sanitizers can be dangerous, and that you want the right kinds of microbes around.” Similarly, biological building materials can also be pro-biotic. “There are many organisms that can be used in bio-materials that naturally battle pathogens,” he said. “We want them on our team.” Related: These amazing zero-waste buildings were grown from mushrooms To complete a project as ambitious as the Biocycler, collaboration is key. “ Architecture is by nature collaborative,” said Maurer. “Through our network in biomimicry, we’ve learned the advantages of working with biologists in addition to engineers.” redhouse is collaborating with scientists at NASA and MIT to create the Biocycler, which may only be the beginning of a revolution in smart, living building materials. “When you consider all the possibilities of the materials – bio-luminescence, radiation protection, self cleaning, pathogen protection, etc, it sounds sci-fi, but we’re not that far out from some of these features,” he said. With a Biocycler proof of concept in action, redhouse will have taken us another step further into this sustainable, bio-future. + The Biocycler on Kickstarter + redhouse studio Images via Keith Hayes/redhouse studio

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redhouse studio is making a mobile machine that recycles old buildings

China built the ‘World’s biggest air purifier’ – and it seems to be working

January 17, 2018 by  
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What has been called the world’s largest air purifier by its operators is now up and running in the Chinese city of Xian in Shaanxi province. The 100-meter (328 feet) tall tower has already improved the local air quality, lead scientist Cao Junji told the South China Morning Post , adding that it could prove to be a valuable tool in the country’s fight against urban air pollution . “The tower has no peer in terms of size … the results are quite encouraging,” he said. Greenhouses covering the size of half a soccer field surround the base of the tower, into which polluted air is pulled. The smog is heated in the greenhouse by solar energy, then rises through the tower, passing through several layers of cleaning filters. Because Xian largely relies on coal for heating, smog can become exceptionally thick and harmful during the cold months. Despite the lower level of solar energy available during the winter , a special coating on the tower’s greenhouses allows it to absorb what is available more efficiently and continue to pull smog all year long. To determine the tower’s impact on local air quality, Cao and his team erected over a dozen monitoring stations. The team found that the average reduction in PM2.5, the most harmful particles in smog, was 15 percent during times of heavy pollution. Related: China is planting 6.6 million hectares of new forest — almost the size of Ireland Cao stresses that the results are only initial while further details will be released in the spring. A comprehensive scientific assessment of the tower’s effectiveness is also forthcoming. Nonetheless, what is known is promising. While there have been other similar smog-removing towers, many of which were powered by coal-fueled electricity, the Xian tower is unique in its very limited electricity needs. “It barely requires any power input throughout daylight hours. The idea has worked very well in the test run,” said Cao. While locals have marveled at the tower’s size, it is in fact a miniature version of smog-removing towers that Cao and his team hope to install throughout China’s dense, massive cities . The full-size version could reach as high as 500 meters (1,640 feet) while the surrounding greenhouses could cover nearly 30 square kilometers (11.6 square miles). Via South China Morning Post Images via South China Morning Post and Colin Capelle/Flickr

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China built the ‘World’s biggest air purifier’ – and it seems to be working

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